Before You Buy Those Christmas Gifts

Horse Sculpture by Alan Potter

“Giving gifts to others is a fundamental activity, as old as humanity itself. Yet in the modern, complex world, the particulars of gift-giving can be extraordinarily challenging.” ~ Andrew Weil

“I think it would be bad for culture and the art if artists and people who develop the apparatus to support those artists don’t get paid.” ~ Lyor Cohen

“We have to support our local artists. It’s just that simple. Otherwise, we will have no art.” ~ Al Jourgensen

My husband and I are lucky. We have lots of artist friends and our house is filled with beautiful artwork, much of which my husband has created, or traded for. Yet, only recently, since I published my first book, did I understand just how important it is to buy original artwork.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting the gift cards so I can buy the things I’ve been wanting, and the other thoughtful gifts people give me. But the most meaningful gifts are when someone gives me original artwork. On a recent birthday my mother-in-law gave me a pair of hand carved busts of an African man and woman. I cried when I opened them, they were so beautiful. And I love the handmade earrings and necklaces, and other artwork my husband buys for me from his artist friends. And, of course, I love getting books.

This past week was the annual Art in the Park in our home town. We took Barry’s parents so they could buy a gift for their neighbors who have been picking up their mail. I thought it was nice that they wanted to give them a handmade gift. After they purchased the gift, we visited a potter friend of Barry’s. He and his wife had invited us to dinner one Christmas season when Barry’s parents were visiting. It was fun for them to connect again. Alan creates whimsical figures, mostly of animals. I have always loved his horses. As I looked around the booth I saw the beautiful horse figure pictured above and I decided to buy it. I did this following advice I recently read about supporting fellow authors. It’s important to buy their book, even if you aren’t going to read it, because it supports all the hard work they put into creating the book, and it’s good karma. I think that principle can be applied to supporting local artists as well. Art is a reflection of someone’s soul. Buying those that speak to you enriches our life. Yet, often people balk at paying so much for a piece of artwork not appreciating the time and effort expended in its creation.

One day when my sister and I were talking about the situation in this country, a kind of radical idea struck me. We have been brainwashed into thinking that buying goods and services for the least amount of money possible is a good thing. That’s why Walmart, Costco, the Dollar Store and other stores of that type have sprung up all over the country. We have been encouraged to buy cheap, kitchy stuff that we don’t really need. Slowly the idea of buying cheap, then when it breaks, buying another equally cheap item to replace it, has become the norm. We’ve never stopped to think who benefits from planned obsolesce? What happened to the notion that when we need to make a purchase, we should first consider the quality of what we want to buy?

Barry and I spent last Christmas with his family, and I was happy to hear our nephew and his wife say that they were saving money to buy a dining room set made by a local master craftsmen. It was going to be an expensive purchase, but they wanted it BECAUSE it was handmade with great care and would last many, many years. I loved that!

There are certain things that are worth spending a great deal of money on. As my father used to say, “Buy the best and you will never be sorry.” So, I’ve begun to change my ideas when it comes to buying clothing, books, and other household items. Knowing that I’ve purchased the best just makes me feel good. Buying artwork to enrich my home gives me very much the same feeling. I’m not only paying for the piece, but the time the artist spent making it, and their artistic vision.

I hope to begin a trend of showing appreciation for wonderful craftsmanship by taking the time to consider giving quality handmade Christmas gifts this year. They don’t have to be expensive, but it would be nice if they were unique and well made. If you do this, you will help support an artist so they can continue to make beautiful things for us to admire and appreciate.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking my posts. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

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Help Your Favorite Author

My Favorite Books

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens well.” ~ Mark Haddon

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ~ Ray Bradbury

My husband’s parents are visiting, so I have been busy doing all the domestic chores I let slip because I’m too busy writing to vacuum and dust. Since that is the case, this post is going to be a little bit of a repeat of one I posted earlier in the year.

The Space Between Time is published in both ebook and print-on-demand formats. I hope you will consider doing some or all of the things on this list so you can help me and your favorite author sell more books. An author can’t make any money if no one knows the book exists.

Word of mouth is still the best advertising tool. How many of you discuss your favorite TV show’s latest episode with friends, family and coworkers? See what I mean? You are creating a buzz. You can do that for your favorite authors as well. Here are some ways you can help them.

Write a review of the books you read and leave it on Amazon, Goodreads, in your blog, or any social media site you choose.

If you are a member of Goodreads, just putting books on your “want to read” shelf will get the book noticed by the Goodreads staff and they may even promote them on their site.

If you like a book, let your local bookstore and library know what you thought of it, and ask them to carry and promote it.

Share your thoughts about the book with your friends and book club groups that you might belong to.

Consider asking the author to have a Skype session with your book club group so they can ask questions, or suggest that your local bookstore invite your favorite author to have a book reading/signing.

Give the book to your friends and family as gifts.

You may think these tips are rather easy and trivial, but if you help your favorite author sell more books, you will be helping them pay for all the time they spent working on it. Writing a book is not an easy thing to do, you know.

If you are so inclined to buy my book, and promote it. I will greatly appreciate it, and so will your favorite authors when you do the same for them.

The Space Between Time description: When Jenna’s life is shattered, she finds journals linking her to Morgan, a distant ancestress. As she enters Morgan’s consciousness, the two women embark on life changing parallel journeys that may help them find self-knowledge, healing, and love.

Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your comments and likes.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

It’s Here!

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” ~ J. K. Rowling

“Finishing books – and leaving the world you’ve created – is always a kind of emotionally wrenching experience. I usually cry.” ~ Lauren Oliver

I’m not crying, that The Space Between Time is live on Amazon, I’m cheering. The process of publishing a book is long and arduous and now that I’ve completely finished, okay I may do an audio book, I can now devote my full attention to the sequel novel and other projects. That’s a huge relief.

On the other hand, there are things I discovered while making the final corrections that I could have gone back and changed. Instead I said, “Hmm, should I go back and make those corrections to the sheriff’s dialect, or should I be like Elizabeth Gilbert and say, ‘Done is better than good.’” I do want my book to be good but will the reader really care if the sheriff says, “ya”, instead of “y’all”? I will change his dialect in the second book, but it was just time to get all versions of this book out into the world and move on to the next.

I do have a word to say about writing dialogue in general and dialect specifically. The way we speak and the vocabulary we use says a lot about us, and about characters in a book. I have several characters with specific dialects in this book. I didn’t even attempt to write the New England dialect, because I couldn’t hear that one in my head. However, since my background is in theatre, I automatically hear the characters speaking, so mostly I write the dialogue first. But that doesn’t mean I type the dialect correctly on the first few go arounds. I’m going to have to look for some writer apps or websites that can help me with that on the next book.

I think writing dialect is a tricky thing because you have to make sure the reader understands what the character is saying. Not long ago I was reading a book that took place someplace in what is now the UK. The author wrote what one character was saying in their native dialect, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the heck that character was saying. My conclusion: indicate the dialect, but make it readable for all readers, not just the ones who are familiar with it.

Of course, now that my book is published in both ebook and print-on-demand options, the fun (ugh) work of marketing and promotion begins. That’s going to be an interesting learning process. I’m only somewhat familiar with how to proceed, so I will keep working on that a little bit at a time. I know that many authors do pre-sales of their books and are so happy when they get lots of books sold ahead of time. I’m just not that kind of person. I’d rather have a slow but steady interest in my book. I hope that happens and I hope that this book will be one that people are reading many, many years from now.

If you buy The Space Between Time, I ask you to do somethings for me. Reviews help sell books, so if you would be willing to write a few sentences on Amazon, Goodreads, or any of your social networks (posting the links where people can buy it too) that would be a big help. And please post an honest review.

If  you don’t have time to read the book yet, but belong to Goodreads, putting it on your “want to read” shelf helps the Goodreads administrators see that there is interest and they may choose to promote it.

Also, if you feel so inclined and like the book, recommend it to your local bookstore, and/or library, book club group, on social media, or any other place you can think to talk about it. Even if you only tell your friends about it, that would be great. If you’ve got a blog, a mention there would also help me get the word out.

Here is a description of The Space Between Time:

Life is not going well for Jenna Holden. Her live-in-fiancé walks out. Her estranged mother is in a terrible accident that may kill her. And instead of the promotion she’s expecting at her book editor job, she’s fired. Jenna must return to the small town where she grew up to recoup. With all that’s happened she sees no future for herself.

But then, in her mother’s attic, Jenna finds journals written by a long-dead ancestress. They transport her to another time and place, giving her access to the thoughts and feelings of another woman, also alone in the world, who is facing similar trials of heartache and loss. Reading them somehow gives Jenna an escape from her own pain and sorrow, yet offers a doorway to resilience, healing, and the joy of a supportive love. Jenna need only find the self-knowledge and courage to step through, into that space between time.

Thanks so much for continuing to read, Sage Woman Chronicles. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon, CreateSpace, and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

I am Enough

Tarantula Nebula

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” William Shakespeare

“If a man wants to be sure of his road he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” ~ St. John of the Cross, Mystic and Saint

I’m kind of stubborn and sometimes unteachable. I’m like my dad in that way. There are certain activities that I want to discover for myself. I want to find my own way of doing it and I get irritated when someone tells me I have to do it exactly the way they do.

When I had an idea for the novel that became The Space Between Time, I just started writing even though my degrees were in religion, theatre and education. I came back to it, after having to put to it away because I became a full-time teacher. At that point I did take one writing class. But I realized that each writer has their own method and taking classes in writing can be learning someone else’s method. That hinders the student’s work because they try to fit into a mould that might not work for them. That is unless the instructor encourages his or her students to discover their own way of working. That’s my style of teaching. I give a framework, but the students must follow their own creative path.

When I read week four of Art & Soul Reloaded, including this week’s exercise, I was excited. Pam Grout encourages us to just start the project that has come to us. We don’t need to take a class, or read a book to create something remarkable.

One thing I love about this book is that Ms. Grout mentions all different kinds of creative people and the struggles they face producing their art because, for the most part they feel inadequate. In this chapter she writes about Tracy Morgan the Emmy-nominated actor and Saturday Night Live superstar. She opens her story about him with one of his quotes. “Society gave me a ten-foot wall and a five-foot ladder and then sat back to see if I’d get my black ass over that wall. It wasn’t impossible, but I had to be creative.” He has said that being funny was a way for him to survive living in the projects, and slowly it dawned on him that he might be able to be funny in front of an audience and make a living doing it. His first wife told him to go for it, but “… you’ve got to go all the way.”

When I read Tracy Morgan’s story, I compared myself to him, for just a moment. His life was much worse than mine and he learned to follow his bliss much earlier than I did. But then I remembered that as a young child, Divine Oneness and I became friends and I followed her lead in most of the decisions I made for my life. My theater training led me to teaching which led me to writing. For me, all that was the perfect path to take. Since we’re each unique, no decision is wrong, as long as we’re following our inner guides and offering up our talents to others. It took me a long time to understand that. There are still times when I want to beat myself up for taking soooooo long to get out of my own way and just commit to writing wholeheartedly. Thank heaven those times are now few and far between.

Wholeheartedly, that’s my word for the year. To me, one aspect of being wholehearted about something means you commit completely by taking time to finish all the steps necessary to make your vision come true. That may mean entering a degree program, or it may just mean starting that project that has been nagging at you. So, this year I have carefully, but wholeheartedly embraced publishing The Space Between Time. I say carefully, because I’ve discovered that I’m not a slap-the-book-together kind of person. I like to make sure not only the story is as good as I can make it, but that all the mechanical stuff is right too. I’m happy to say that Barry and I finished the final corrections this past weekend. Barry has uploaded the final manuscript for both ebook and print-on-demand versions. Hopefully we’ll get through the approval process, and the physical book will be available by next week for you to order.

I often wonder what it would be like if all parents and teachers allowed their children and students to create anything they wanted, instead of making them follow some pre-conceived notion of what makes good art, or music, or dance, or stories. To me allowing someone to express themselves in their own true way is the ultimate act of love. If more people gave encouragement to their friends, family and coworkers to listen to their inner creative voices, wow! think how wonderful the world would be.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Letting Go of the Old, Welcoming the New

Revised book cover for The Space Between Time

“What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?” ~ Rollo May, Existential Psychologist

“Creativity, it seems, has much in common with spirituality and may, in fact, be the same thing.” ~ Pam Grout, Art & Soul Reloaded

“Be Loki. Be Coyote. Be willing to stir the world’s soup pot. Spit at the stars, show your backside to the council, whoop in church.” ~ Jame Yoder, Author

How do you cope during extremely stressful times? I do it by finding a creative project.

When I was first teaching drama, I was also going to school full-time, and directing plays. I didn’t have one moment of the day to just breathe and relax. However, when I was at play rehearsals, I did get a bit of the rest and replenishment I needed because it was collaborative and creative.

When I was in college studying both religion and theatre, I learned something valuable. That art, or creativity, are spiritual in nature. Over the years I’ve come to understand that we all have the ability to tap into the well of creativity to heal, renew, and connect with other people. Even though I’m now a writer as well as a theatre instructor, I’m fascinated with how others view creativity.

That’s why I bought Pam Grout’s new book Art & Soul Reloaded. It’s a book with a creative exercise for each week. I’ve only read the first few pages, but I found it interesting that I have much in common with her. Like Pam, I’m the daughter of a minister with two sides to my personality. I have been the good girl, good in school, and done all the conventional things we’re told human beings are supposed to do. But, like Pam Grout, I’ve been secretly drawn to the bohemian life. I’ve wanted to be like Auntie Mame, and “live, live, live!” But most of the time I’m more like June Cleaver, only without The Beaver.

Like Pam Grout, I’d dabble in being a bohemian. When I was acting, I’d hang out at the bar after rehearsal, and go to the opening night, and end of the run parties. However, though I might sing along with the rest, and share war stories of things that happened during the show’s run, I didn’t drink much, nor did I act with crazy abandon. I stayed on the fringes enjoying other people’s freedom but not fully participating. I wanted to shed my inhibitions, but rarely did. Yet, from my theatre experiences I did learn some extraordinary lessons. That we all want the same basic things, to love and be loved, to find our purpose, to be useful. This is true for all people no matter their gender, color, sexual preference, or race.

I bought Pam’s book because even though I work on creative projects nearly every day, I feel like I’m still stuck back in that conventional life of working and teaching. The pull has been strong to follow the crowd and do all the appropriate things like buying a house, keeping the yard nice, planning for retirement, and such. I have not always followed all those “must do’s” and there is a part of me that rejoices that I’ve made some pretty bold choices in my life. Yet, I’d like to be the old woman that people either say, “Watch out here comes, Lucinda.” or “I want to be alive and vibrant like that when I’m old.”

It’s when I’ve made the bold choices that I’ve felt most alive and happy, as opposed to the sinking feeling of living out the conventional choices I’ve made. And now seems like a good time to get rid of more of those old beliefs about what living a good life looks like.

I think there has always been a tension inside me between committing absolutely to a creative life as opposed to living a more conventional one. But, even as I worked those 8:00 to 5:00 jobs, I looked for ways to break out of the crush of routine. And even though I’ve only just begun to read Art & Soul Reloaded, I feel that we can all find ways to fill our souls with the beauty of creating something wonderful. Maybe it’s gardening, or gourmet cooking, or doing hand crafts of some sort. I don’t think it matters what the creative endeavor is as long as we give ourselves time to let go of the cares of the world and let the creativity that we were born with flow through us.

What I hope to get out of doing the exercises in this book is to become more open to what life has to offer me instead of worrying about all the ugly things that are happening in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I want to focus on the positive so I can contribute to love and beauty for all to enjoy.

By the way, the second proof for my novel has arrived. It won’t be long now before it’s available for purchase. In the mean time, I’m enjoying teaching acting and working on the sequel novel.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Marketing Lessons

Fsbo – THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” ~ R. L. Stine

“Every year the literary press praises dozens if not hundreds of novels to the skies, asserting explicitly or implicitly that these books will probably not be suffering water damage in the basements of their author’s houses 20 years from now. But historically, anyway, that’s not the way the novelistic ecology works.” ~ Lev Grossman

“Buy other author’s books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.” ~ M. J. Rose

Okay, I admit it, I know almost nothing about how to market and promote my book. I loved writing it, even on the hard days. But I get a headache when I try to make a plan to market it.

The other day I was fretting about how to spread the word that I’ve published a book. I mean isn’t that a great accomplishment? Yes, it is and I feel good about that, but there are thousands, perhaps even millions of books published every day. So how do I toot my horn loud enough so that people will pay attention to my work, but not become annoying with roboposts on social media?

There are so many books and articles with tips for the independent author about how to “build your brand,” or how to “build your audience.” They say you’ve got to build a social media presence, create an email list, write a blog, do a podcast, or video series to help you find your target audience. Of course you have to take time to figure out who your target audience is while doing all that. I wish I could find someone to do all the marketing for me. But since I don’t have a big publishing firm behind me, I have to do it myself. Which means I keep reading and trying to expand my social media reach. Some tips are helpful, but to be honest, most of it makes my head spin and my heart sink.

I hit upon this fantastic idea to search for women writers who might be willing to review my book on their blogs and I came across an Arizona writer who specializes in writing reviews for little known women authors. Aha! I thought I’d hit the jackpot when she said the description of my book sounded interesting and she was willing to review my book. Then, in subsequent emails, she mentioned that she didn’t like fantasy and my heart sank. Of course she wanted me to buy and review her book in return. (I’m sending mine to her for free.) So, what to do? I told her that my book was kind of on the order of Outlander, and not surprisingly she wrote back that she hadn’t read the series, that’s how much she hates fantasy. Okay, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. She is not the first person I’ve encountered who says they hate fantasy, and won’t even try reading it. To me, reading lots of genres of books is what keeps my reading life interesting. On the other hand, fantasy is like eating my favorite comfort food. If I’m feeling upset, or bored, I go choose a fantasy book to lose myself in. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but when I hit a gem of a book, I follow that author.

Here’s the thing, my book, The Space Between Time, and Outlander, are not strictly fantasy. They are really in a new category called magical realism. Both books have elements of historical fiction, while including time travel, and a bit of intrigue and romance thrown in. They’re kind of a hodgepodge of genres most of them with realistic settings and events. Isabel Allende’s book The House of the Spirits is always referenced when talking about magical realism. But, it’s not a category we could choose when publishing my book. So, what do I call The Space Between Time, and how do I find my audience? Fortunately, we had a wide range of tags we could attach to my book description, from women’s fiction, to fantasy, to historical.

The other day I was contemplating this marketing dilemma just before meditating. And, behold, in my meditation an answer came to me. Go join fantasy groups on my social media sites. There are many shades of fantasy, and among those fans must be people who love magical realism, or soft core fantasy as one of my students calls it. While I was doing that, another thought came to me to join sites, and organizations that are for women writers, and about women’s fiction.

So, even though my head still spins after spending time networking with these groups, I do feel like eventually, I will find my readers.

Having written all of the above, I challenge those of you who say you don’t like fantasy, to read a book by a friend of mine, Stacy Bennett. The book is Quest of the Dreamwalker. I just finished rereading this book because my sister, niece, brother-in-law, and I have formed a book club group. They wanted me to suggest a book, and since we’re all lovers of fantasy, I suggested, Quest of the Dreamwalker. It’s a book I loved when I first read it, and have continued to think about long after I finished the last page. To me well written fantasy books such as this, help me get a better perspective on human experience, and human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m a magnet for other people’s feelings, but sometimes books that are set in my time period are too jarring. If it could happen to me or my neighbors, then I’m reluctant to read the book. But, historical fiction, mystery and suspence, fantasy, magical realism, even classic literature help me separate from the situation a bit, while still experiencing the story along with the characters.

Here is a short description of Quest of the Dreamwalker, from my perspective. As Cara and Falin, helped by Khoury, Archer and Bradan, face danger from an evil sorcerer, they try to unravel who they are, and what their aborted purpose might be. In the process we get glimpses of their hopes, fears, grief, love, and connection to one another. While the book does take place in a made up world, and there are sorcerers, and a reluctant dragon, this book could almost be classified as medieval historical fiction. There are shamanic type characters and paranormal experiences, but if you’ve read The Shack, or The Alchemist, you’re used to that kind of thing anyway. Think about it, aren’t dark sorcerers just a representation of the darker side of human nature? And dragons, as part of our mythology, represent greed, or intelligence, or love of the land, or even wisdom. To me the main themes of this book are the same as most general fiction. It involves characters who are wounded and dealing with unhealed grief and pain. They are seeking self-discovery, finding their purpose, and finding and expressing love. I highly recommend this book, even to those of you who might not think you like fantasy.

Okay I’ve done my good deed for the day. I will continue to explore genres of fiction that I might normally shy away from. I will also continue to learn how best to promote my work.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Learned from Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.

I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.

Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.

I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.

When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.

That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.

This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.

Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.

So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Work of Writing

Kate Chase by Brady-Handy
Kate Chase by Brady-Handy

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” ~ John Updike

So, how does a writer get ideas? Last week I told about how I got my idea for my soon to be published novel, The Space Between Time after a weekend with my mom and dad. When I began writing, the storyline that was most vivid to me was the father-daughter relationship in the past. I wanted to link Morgan to someone in the present but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then I had to set the story aside. When I picked the book up again years later, I was still baffled about how to link Morgan to someone from the present time period. By then, though, I was able to trust that one day the answer would come so I continued to flesh out Morgan’s story.

Perhaps I should write here that I did not create a plot outline before I began writing. I just sat down and let the ideas flow until they stopped and then I’d go do something else while the story simmered on the back burner of my mind. It often happens that the best ideas come to me in that netherworld between sleeping and waking. But there came a point when I was was stuck. I knew the story needed something, but I didn’t know what. Though I was frustrated, I trusted that if I was patient the answer would come and it did some weeks later at a writer’s group meeting.

A local writer came to speak to our group. He asked each of us to tell what we were working on. When my turn came, he commented that it might be nice to have a character in the present somehow linked to the storyline in the past. Of course, I told him that had been my original idea but that I had not been able to figure out how to do it. That storyline wasn’t alive for me yet. But it occurred to me that I was stalled on Morgan’s story because I needed that other timeline. So on the drive home I let my mind wander about how to use a character in the present to finish my book. Miracles do happen because on the drive home the idea came. The woman in the present would find her three-times great-grandmother’s journals, and that’s how Jenna was born.

Though I was jazzed about writing Jenna’s story, it was the most difficult. Many of the things that happen to her are altered versions of events in my own life. I didn’t want to go back to those dark emotions much less put them down on paper. So in the first drafts, I glossed over the pain Jenna feels. I tried to rush her to healing before she was ready. And that’s why I had to be open to allowing people to critique my work. It’s scary. I often felt angry, or stupid and ripped apart after hearing my friends comments. For a short time I wondered if I should continue working on the book at all.

But through that process I learned that I had to be careful who I trusted with my manuscript. There are people who will rip you and your work apart just because they like to see you squirm, or they’re jealous, or they wish their work was as good. I encountered a person like that. However, I was fortunate to find one writer friend who was compassionate, yet firm. She encouraged me to keep writing and told me that the story was worthwhile. Yet she pushed me to let my characters get beat up by events and go to dark places so that in the end what they learned would mean more to the reader. As hard as it was to hear some of her comments, I knew she was on my side and after each read through, I felt energized to get busy on the next draft.

In the end The Space Between Time has become a story of two women, linked by blood but separated by time, who experience life shattering events. They must find ways to rebuild their lives. When Jenna finds the journals, she enters Morgan’s consciousness and through their link they help each other heal and discover who they really are. They each find their true life’s purpose.

More on the story in a later post.

If you’d like to join my mailing list to get updates about this and subsequent books, you can join here.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to my new followers.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

My Writing Life

Dad and me on Easter Sunday
Dad and me on Easter Sunday

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anais Nin

“An artist’s job is to make us feel less alone.” ~ Viola Davis

“I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company.” ~ Carrie Fisher

As you might surmise from the various quotes above, I’m having difficulty pinning down what I want to express about my writing life. It’s a most profound privilege to wake up every morning and try to grasp those wispy thoughts and feelings that are demanding to be expressed. But they’re capricious; they like to be chased. They run and hide until I catch their shirt tails and drag them out into the open.

I’ve always had lots to say, even though most of my life I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself. During one very short period in my life, I ventured to share what I had been feeling on an empathetic level, but that hadn’t gone so well, so I retreated and kept quiet. But I met people who told me I had a facility for writing, and what they said planted seeds. It took them a long time to grow, but finally one day I gained enough self-confidence to allow myself to begin to express what had been dammed up for so long.

In almost any story no matter how it’s told, there is always an inciting incident that begins the main character’s journey. My inciting incident was a visit to my parents in 1998 or 1999. My father had been living with heart disease for many years and something about his manner, or the way he talked that weekend, gave me the clue that he was on the downward path toward his eventual death. I was stunned. My dad was my mentor. What would I do without him? It was then the beginnings of The Space Between Time, came flitting through my consciousness. I began work on the book the day after our return home. All I had at that time was Morgan’s story, though her name was Anna in those early drafts.

I was a substitute teacher at the time, and shortly after I began working on the book, I was given first one, then two more long term substitute teaching assignments. Those led me to get my Master’s degree in Education and becoming a full-time teacher. If you’re a teacher you know that there is little time for anything other than your job. But the way I felt about my relationship with my father and the story I wanted to tell about the close relationship between Morgan and her father never left me. In fact I thought a great deal about those two characters. It was as if the story was simmering on the back burner of my mind.

Skip ahead ten years. My father had died in 2004. I missed him terribly, but his influence and love for me continued to guide me. A lot had happened by then. I was forced out of my position teaching drama in one school district and began teaching English in another. In some ways my life had been shattered. In others I was discovering talents I had not known I possessed. Then one day I knew that what others had told me was true. I could be a good writer, and I had lots I wanted to say.

I didn’t go back to my novel when I first began writing full-time. But when I did, it felt right. Every morning I was excited to get to work. I won’t lie and say that it has been easy. There were stretches of weeks when I had no idea how to get from point A to point B in my story, or when I fought writing the raw emotions that the characters were experiencing. I wanted my main characters to learn their lessons without going through the pain and suffering I had gone through because I didn’t want to drag myself through the muck again.

Thank heaven for good friends who kept pushing me to “beat up” my characters. Finally my resistance crumbled, and I made the connection between the satisfaction we feel at the end of a good story, and the main characters overcoming frightening and/or tragic obstacles to win or grow. We can’t skip to the end and be healed in life or in literature. I’ve started work on a sequel novel and a fantasy story and this time I’ll be looking for the best trials and tribulations to get the characters to their eventual transformations.

Next week, I’ll give you a little glimpse into the story of Jenna and her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan and how I came up with the idea to intertwine the two timelines.

If you would like to join my mailing list and get updates on the publication of my books, and new installments to my video series, “Loving Literature”, here is the link.

Welcome to my new followers and thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share this post.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities
Cover art for A Tale of Two Cities

“The truth is, we are all one connected thing.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” ~ Albert Camus

“Countless scientific studies show that steeling yourself against the negative, preparing for the worst, actually puts you on a trajectory heading straight for the very thing you’re hoping to escape.” ~ Pam Grout, Thank and Grow Rich

I don’t believe in coincidence, so when Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey recently offered a new meditation series and it was titled “Creating Peace from the Inside Out”, I knew it was just what I needed to ease my frazzled nerves from the din of the election noise. The meditations went right along with the Pam Grout books I’ve been reading, E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. They are all about changing our focus from always seeing the negative things around us, to finding the abundant beauty that most of us miss everyday.

Here is an example: As I began this post, the sun was just coming up. I love to watch the sunrises and sunsets here in Arizona. I can’t get enough of them, and my photos file proves it. I love them because, you see, I lived in Portland, Oregon for fifteen years prior to moving here. As my father used to say of living on the western side of the Cascade Mountains, “It just get’s light, then it gets dark.” There is almost constant cloud cover. Okay, I haven’t been back in twenty years since global warming has changed climates everywhere. They may see the sun more often now, but while living there I never saw the lavender tinge to the sky on the opposite horizon when the sun was rising or setting. It’s just one of the pleasures of living where the sun shines almost every day.

Another pleasure of living in the desert is the night sky. Every night that I drive home from teaching my class, I stop outside my car before going into the house and look at the abundance of stars. We’re lucky to live in the country where there is little light pollution.

I have to say I do miss the proliferation of flowers in Portland in the spring, and how the gorgeous colors make up for the gray skies. I especially miss the pink dogwood tree that my husband gave me for my birthday. I loved watching it bloom as I worked in the kitchen. I must now keep the beauty of that tree in my mind.

Since doing the twenty-two meditations and reading Pam Grout’s books, I now wake up grateful for a new day and all the blessings it will bring. When I’m feeling down, I listen to “Happy” by Pharell Williams, (Right after the election I listened to it about twenty times one day when I was feeling particularly off balance.) or some other happy song. I watch happy movies and TV shows and I’ve decided to stay away from negative posts on social media. Thankfully, I gave up watching the news years ago. In short, I’ve decided to follow my inclinations to spread, and feel as much joy as I can.

To this end, I’m focusing on my latest fun creative project, my video series, “Loving Literature.” It’s so much fun learning to create and edit the videos. (It’s much more work than you might think watching the finished products.)

Originally the series was going to focus mostly on tutorials, but lately I’ve been thinking of books I’ve read that have inspired me, and I want to include them in the series as well. The first of these books was A Tale of Two Cities. I read it and Jane Eyre in senior English class many years ago. They ignited my love of British literature. As I was thinking of A Tale of Two Cities, it struck me that we could use that title for the times in which we are living.

If we focus on just the negative, it is the worst of times. But if we turn our attention slightly it can also be said to be the best of times. In the two weeks since the election, I’ve read of people being attacked and then others coming to their rescue, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood and other such organizations are enjoying an increase in donations and memberships. I choose to be grateful for those and so many other blessings big and small. It’s amazing how many blessings I’ve found since I decided to look for them.

Yesterday I was thinking about how in the end of A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton gives his life so that Lucy’s husband Charles Darnay may live. He does it out of love for her. On the night before his execution, he imagines the joy that his death will bring the couple as they raise their children and honor him for what he did for them. He imagines the good they and their children will bring to the world. In fact, that was the thing that grasped me about the book, how love can change people. Amidst all the chaos and violence of the French Revolution, Sydney Carton was redeemed.

Though it sometimes feels odd to do so, I have begun sending love to Mr. Trump, his cronies, the KKK and any other people and places where strife is happening. My prayers join with those of others doing the same thing. It becomes an invisible force for good and hopefully more and more people will join in and accelerate the change which is already happening.

I didn’t mean to get so preachy. It’s difficult to express how deeply I’m affected by current events, and how I gain comfort from what I’ve read, the guidance I receive during meditation, and from the beauty around me. I share my thoughts with all of you in the hope that maybe you too will find the kindness, love, and beauty that can be found everywhere we look.

Thanks to my new followers for joining me, and thanks to you all for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016